Volunteers and Patience – Day 22 NaBloPoMo

Hi everyone,

I spent a lovely day out in the yard today – no uni work to do. Woo hoo! So I had a chance to actually pay attention to a few things.

Like the worm farms. I’ve got two of them I bought a few years ago for converting all the kitchen waste that my chickens can’t have, (tea leaves, coffee grounds, potato peelings and so on) into lovely rich compost. I haven’t really taken a lot of notice of them since I emptied the bottom trays some months ago and put the compost out for the potato beds and wicking barrel fruit trees.

Well, imagine my surprise when I looked closely at the plants coming up in the gap between the trays today.

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In the picture above are mostly Roma bush tomatoes that I dried back in autumn, and after saving what I thought was the best of the seed, put in the rest in the compost bucket. Note a tiny potato plant in the right half of the photo – that has come up from a peeling! I’m planning to pot the strongest tomatoes up and let them do their thing. I’ve found Roma is a great variety for growing in tubs.

Volunteers are actually really common in my garden beds. At the moment, I’m picking from several Golden and Ruby Silverbeet (Rainbow Chard) and Curly Endives that have popped up in quite unlikely places and every autumn I have Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) and of course, there’s the potatoes.

It’s really hard to find all the potatoes at harvest time and it only takes one to see a new plant sneak up in the middle of whatever’s in the bed next. Usually, I pull these out as they are like weeds – unwanted interlopers! On the other hand, in spring, I always find new plants of the perennial Wild Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) that has made a home in front of the asparagus bed that I like to transplant or put in pots.

This is the asparagus I grew from seed last spring and planted out in autumn. Despite needing a thorough weeding, it’s doing really well – much better than first year crowns should – but I did spent quite a few months preparing the bed with copious amounts of sheep manure, seaweed and spent straw from the rabbit hutches. Also, I haven’t seen any berries yet (which identifies female plants) but with the slow start we had to spring, they might not appear until next month. The biggest stem was about pencil thickness so I might take a stem or two next spring but I won’t start cropping properly for another couple of years.

Most of the food I grow is fast to produce and crop – gone in a season. Apart from the fruit trees, asparagus is the only really long term food project I have, but I know it will be worth it. After weeding, I’ll be piling more manure and seaweed over it – and wait.

Patience is a virtue 😀

Speaking of which, this young fellow has no patience! This is Bernard Black charging in to eat ALL the food this morning, giving me the “get out of my way woman!” look on the way ❤

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Garlic Time – Day 14 NaBloPoMo

I’ve spent the afternoon in the garden, listening to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, avoiding listening to the news. Reports of the attacks in Paris came through this morning here in Australia and I’ve found it incredibly distressing. I love that city dearly and have been thinking of friends who live in France (all safe fortunately) and what they must be going through.

I pricked out seedlings into grow tubes, said hello to my ever-growing flock of worms and fed them scraps, planted out vegetables and generally lost myself in Quidditch, Polyjuice Potion and Harry, Ron and Hermione’s escapades.

As an avid reader, I think audio books are brilliant, particularly for works I’ve already read. But as a writer, I’m convinced anything worth reading should be read out loud. I even read essay drafts for university aloud and it’s surprising what I can learn from the exercise. Perhaps it’s the musician coming out in me, but I hear flow and tempo problems far more easily than I see them on the page.

For my gardening time, I have a wonderful little bluetooth speaker I picked up cheaply that connects easily to my smartphone. I usually put them both on an upturned pot and chill out while I work.

My baby speaker with Kunyani/Mt Wellington in the background

My baby speaker with Kunyani/Mt Wellington in the background

Late in the day, I decided to have a look at the main garlic bed. We’ve had quite a bit of rain the last few days and I noticed a few of the giants had toppled. It’s one of those plants where harvesting is crucial for long term storage and rain at this stage can mean mouldy heads. I adore garlic and I’ve been building up our stocks over the last few years, to the point where I might have enough for more than six months this time!

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The start of this years’ garlic crop!

Note the pencil – these babies are huge! And this isn’t elephant garlic, but a particularly pungent local variety I’ve been growing for the last five years or so. The laundry smells amazing tonight, by the way!

I’ll be pulling the rest tomorrow and once they’re cured for a few days, I’ll be trimming the roots off and plaiting them for hanging in the kitchen 😀

Do you grow garlic? If so, how do you store it? Please leave a comment below.